NIOSH & State Refute IAFF Houston Claims
Firehouse.com’s own Heather Caspi’s investigative reporting revealed some interesting facts today.
Last week, IAFF specifically targeted Houston's staffing as a problem in their article, "NIOSH Singles Out Staffing as Cause of Houston Death,"
This week, While NIOSH ranked staffing equally among 10 other factors in Jahnke's death,
NIOSH Public Affairs Officer Fred Blosser said they see inadequate staffing as one of 11 equal factors in Jahnke's death. "We don't rank these in order of importance," Blosser said. "We think every factor we mentioned and recommendation we made to address it are important, individually and together to give full perspective to the investigation."
THAT SURE DOESN’T SOUND LIKE SINGLING OUT STAFFING! NOISH DIDN’T SINGLE OUT ANYTHING JUST MORE UNION RETORIC AND FLAT OUT LIES.
The State Investigators said today, Fire Marshal's office considered staffing a smaller issue than several other problems they identified. "When it came down to fighting this fire we don't think staffing played that big a role," said spokesman Mark Hanna. "There are other problems we viewed as much more severe once they got inside the building."
And also said, "There were plenty of firefighters at the fire scene if they had been utilized correctly," said Wayne Smith, director of fire safety inspection and investigation for the Texas State Fire Marshal's office. "We had command not knowing where people were, which floor the fire floor was. They were not operating on SOP with filling air cylinders so firefighters were running out of air."
The state report also says, "The proper utilization of personnel on the fire scene is as important as adequate staffing. Engineers on apparatus not designated for water supply or aerial ladder evolutions should remain with their officer and other company personnel to provide an additional firefighter."
SO WAS STAFFING SINGLED OUT? NO! It was one of 11, 27 or 32 findings in the reports.
The state did say, The Texas State Fire Marshal's report did say that engine and ladder companies should be staffed with a a minimum of four personnel, per NFPA 1710 standards. A fourth firefighter was added in Houston after Jahnke's death.
Of course there were 4.15 per company on the first alarm and more than 5,17 were on the second alarm per company which meets NFPA 1710 standards.
NIOSH's report does not mention some of the specific problems described in the HFD's internal report and the Texas State Fire Marshal's report.
Blosser said NIOSH welcomes contact if anyone has questions about the report.
He said the reason NIOSH reports often differ from fire department reports is that they serve a different purpose. "What we look at are factors that we see as big contributing factors based on the best investigation we can do," he said. "Other investigations, generally, are undertaken to look at internal administrative practices, operational factors, to look at legal issues for liability, legal responsibility. We don't get into legal issues or liability or the role of individuals," Blosser said.
Another investigation and report was compiled by the Texas State Fire Marshal's office, to determine how a similar incident could be avoided in the future. "We look at how we can prevent any future loss of life for firefighters," said spokesman Mark Hanna. Like Houston FD officials, Hanna said some of the biggest problems at the incident were a lack of communication and the mistaken use of nearly empty air cylinders.
Other highlights of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office report:
Multiple unrelated radio transmissions took place after Rescue 11's mayday call. Fire Dispatch or Command made no announcement terminating the mayday condition after Rescue 11 extricated themselves from their entrapment.
Rescue efforts take priority over all unrelated radio transmissions until Dispatch announces the emergency situation has been concluded
There was no feedback from the fire attack crew on the fifth floor to Incident Command regarding progress in the fire attack and initial search. The first indication of trouble was the call for help from Captain Jahnke.
Command was not notified as firefighters exited the fifth floor as they ran out of air. Additional firefighters could have been committed to the attack to replace departing firefighters and back up those that remained if Command had been notified.
The correct location of a high-rise fire should be repeated periodically on the radio for clarity. Companies should understand their assignments and the building floor arrangement.
The initial dispatch reported that the fire was located on the fifth floor, followed by transmissions from E2 that they had located the fire on the fifth floor. Despite this, several companies were sent to, or on their own initiative, traveled to the wrong floor.
Ten minutes elapsed from the time of first call to the first fire department unit on the scene. Five minutes of this time elapses between the receipt of the call at 911 to the time fire units are dispatched to the fire 15 . Insurance Services Office (ISO) requires that the call be dispatched within one minute of receiving the call.
In addition, more than a dozen other recommendations on areas of rapid intervention, ventilation, communications and smoke control were also delivered in the state's report, as general recommendations on these types of incidents.
NIOSH's 11 recommendations:
· Fire departments should ensure that the department's high-rise Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are followed and refresher training is provided.
· Fire departments should ensure that team continuity is maintained.
· Fire departments should ensure that personnel are in position to maintain an offensive attack.
· Fire departments should ensure that a lifeline is in place to guide fire fighters to an emergency stairwell.
· Fire departments should instruct and train fire fighters on initiating emergency traffic (Mayday-Mayday) when they become lost, disoriented, or trapped.
· Fire departments should ensure that a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) is established and in position.
· Fire departments should ensure that a backup line is manned and in position to protect exit routes.
· Fire departments should ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to immediately respond to emergency incidents.
· Fire departments should ensure that the Incident Commander (IC) continuously evaluates the present weather conditions (i.e., high winds) during high-rise fire operations.
· Fire departments should establish and enforce standard operating procedures on the use of thermal imaging cameras for search-and-rescue operations.
· The authority having jurisdiction shall ensure that the receipt and processing of alarms is completed in a timely manner.
OK IT IS HIGH TIME FOR THE IAFF AND THE LOCAL UNION TO COME CLEAN AND ADMIT THEIR MEMBERS HAD A BIG PART IN THE DEATH OF A HOUSTON FIREFIGHTER AND FOUR VERY NEAR MISSES THAT DAY. IT WASN’T JUST STAFFING! It is time to stop this three fire trend in Houston of killing firefighters.